(Andrew Restuccia – Politico) – President Donald Trump will not formally meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of an economic summit here, the White House press secretary said Friday.
“Regarding a Putin meeting, there was never a meeting confirmed, and there will not be one that takes place due to scheduling conflicts on both sides,” Sarah Sanders told reporters traveling with Trump on Air Force One. “There is no formal meeting or anything scheduled for them.”
But Sanders could not rule out that Trump and Putin will not have an informal conversation during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, which both leaders are attending.
Are they going to bump into each other and say hello? Certainly possible and likely,” she said. “But in terms of a scheduled, formal meeting, there’s not one on the calendar and we don’t anticipate that there will be one.”
Trump aides had declined to say for days whether Trump and Putin would huddle during the APEC summit, and Russian media reported Thursday that the two leaders would indeed have a bilateral meeting.
But amid growing frustration in the United States over Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election, the White House appears to be trying to distance itself from Putin.
Trump’s interactions with Putin have come under fierce scrutiny.
The White House was criticized in July for not disclosing that Trump and Putin had a brief, second interaction during the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. The only other person other than Putin and Trump who attended the meeting was the Russian president’s translator.